Growing Potatoes in Straw
When to plantGrowing potatoes in straw is easy. Old-fashioned forecasters used to say to plant potatoes when white oak leaves are the size of a cat's ear.
In modern terms, for early spring planting, plant potatoes two to four weeks before last frost.
In North America, it became a common practice to plant potatoes on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Transplant seed pieces to your garden on a cloudy day, or in the late afternoon to early evening. Implementing garden folklore that works, Good Friday was traditionally known as the best day for planting potatoes.
For growing potatoes in straw, the rows and seed pieces are spaced in the identical fashion as when cultivating potatoes directly into the ground. The difference being the seed pieces are planted on the surface of the soil in straw. Leave a space between rows of 36 to 42 inches. Spacing between plants 8-12 inches.
Cover the planted seed pieces with loose straw. Place straw four to six inches deep between the rows. Potato sprouts will peek through the straw as the seed pieces begin growing.
How long it takes to grow potatoes
Sprouts appear quickly when growing potatoes in straw. Additional straw should be used on the plants after a growth of 4-6 inches. Cover the plants, leaving one inch of the newly grown sprouts showing. Allow the potatoes to grow another four-6 inches. Repeat this same procedure for a few cycles. The average days to harvest is 85-110.
Choose a garden plot that receives full sun. The soil should be loose and enriched with fertilizer. Growing potatoes in straw keeps the soil about ten degrees warmer than it normally would be unprotected. Keep the soil moist.
Always water the garden thoroughly at planting time. If your area does not receive much rainfall during the season, be certain to keep the potatoes watered.
Types of pests and diseases
Major pests of growing potatoes are caterpillars, nematodes, and leaf-footed plant bug.
* Horseradish is a good neighbor planting for potatoes as a trap crop for beetles.<
* Keep the garden area free of weeds.
If you suspect a nematode infestation, the soil should be treated to prevent affecting future crops. Bake out nematodes by placing clear plastic sheets over the soil for at least 4-6 weeks during the summer. Nematodes, which are tiny worms, can also be controlled by fumigating with Vapam about a month before replanting.Disease Prevention
Buy disease-resistant varieties. Remove and destroy sickly plants.
Planting potatoes in straw makes picking easier when they are ready to be picked. You will not have to dig around in the hard ground to harvest them. Harvest when they are full size and the skin is firm. New potatoes may be harvested at any size, but generally, they are not picked before reaching 1-¼ to 1-½ inches in diameter.When flowers appear in the straw, new potatoes are ready for harvesting. Wait if you like bigger potatoes. Once you try growing potatoes in straw, you will be hard pressed to go back to the usual method. The only way it could be easier is if they grew already buttered! For big ripe potatoes, allow the plants to die and it is time for picking and grinning all the way to the table.
Potatoes can be stored in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated spot for 2-9 months. The vegetables can be preserved by canning. Air-dry harvested potatoes.